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There are generally six stages in a bearded dragon’s life cycle. The first stage is the prehatchling, or egg, stage, which is then followed by the hatchling stage. Next, the bearded dragon enters the subadult stage, which is followed by the sexual maturity stage. The fifth stage of a bearded dragon's life cycle is adulthood, where it reaches full maturity. It then proceeds to the sixth and final stage, sometimes known as end stage.
Female bearded dragons generally lay eggs in batches of about 20 at a time. The egg, or prehatchling stage, is the first stage in a bearded dragon’s life cycle. Bearded dragon eggs will usually hatch after about 55 to 75 days, thus ending the first stage.
Once the egg is hatched, the bearded dragon enters the second stage of the life cycle, known as the hatchling stage. When they are first born, hatchings range in size from about 2 to 4 inches (about 5 to 10 cm). Hatchlings grow rapidly and generally have ravenous appetites, consuming anywhere from 20 to 60 crickets a day, along with fresh greens and vegetables. This stage typically lasts about three to four months, and when the dragon grows to about 8 inches (approximately 20 cm) in length, it advances to the next stage of its life cycle.
The third stage of bearded dragon’s life cycle is known as the subadult stage. During this stage, the bearded dragon normally still has a hearty appetite and continues to grow at a quick rate. Adult behaviors start to become more prominent. For instance, males will start to demonstrate either dominant traits, such as head bobbing or beard puffing, or more subservient traits, such as “waving,” where the dragon will lift a front foot and wave it in circles at a challenging male.
When the bearded dragon reaches about 12 inches (about 30 cm) in length, it is considered to have entered the fourth stage of sexual maturity. During this stage, which normally occurs at about three years old, the bearded dragon is a young adult capable of breeding. Many dragons at this stage begin to demonstrate mating behaviors. Also, a female dragon at this stage is considered mature enough to safely carry eggs, something that should not be attempted prior to this stage of the life cycle. The bearded dragon’s appetite will also level out, and it will probably not be so ravenous.
Following the young adult stage, the bearded dragon enters the fifth stage of adulthood. Typically, during this stage of the bearded dragon’s life cycle, it has reached its full size. A bearded dragon normally grows to between 18 and 20 inches (about 45 to 51 cm) in length. At this stage, breeding slows, and appetite diminishes. Shedding, which typically occurs during growth spurts, also becomes much less frequent. This stage normally lasts about four to seven years.
The sixth and final stage of a bearded dragon’s life cycle is known as the end stage, or old age. There is no growth during this stage and little, if any, breeding. The bearded dragon’s appetite decreases dramatically. Some people notice that their dragons also become lethargic and disinterested in the environment. This is a normal, natural stage of the dragon’s life as the dragon’s body is in the process of shutting down. Most bearded dragons will live for about 10 to 12 years, although some may live for longer or shorter periods depending upon environment and constitution.